To the Central Board of Secondary Education

In your textbooks, you teach us that there are three branches of government – the legislative, which makes laws, the executive, which implements laws, and the judiciary, which reviews laws. In other words, you have input (formulating the laws), process (implementing the laws) and output (reviewing the laws and the reaction to it). You’ll notice that everything has the same input-process-output cycle. The computer/device on which you’re reading this follows the same input-process-output cycle – it takes input from you via the keyboard, mouse or touchscreen, processes the command/input, and gives you output. Similarly, education must follow an input-process-output cycle. At the moment, many students would concur if I said that your input is good, but the process and output are not. The input in the cycle is you writing the textbook(s) or formulating the CCE system (which was a good idea, as I will elaborate upon later), the process is when the students read the textbooks and answer questions based on it, and when they do the CCE activities provided to them, and the output is the students’ reaction and their marks.

My first point is based on the CCE system. My opinion of it is that CCE is actually a good idea. It’s just bad implementation that spoiled it. And why do students hate the implemented version of CCE? Quite simply, laziness.

On the part of both the teacher and student; they can’t be bothered to do this properly. What’s more likely to happen (and what does happen) is that the teacher receives, from almost everyone, a copy of the Wikipedia page on that topic. The teacher won’t even read it; he/she will just glance over it, see how good it looks (you can write anything, however wrong, and your teacher won’t notice it – all they’re looking for is the presentation) and give you marks out of 10 or 20.

There are points for originality, too, but the teachers won’t bother to check. It’s handwritten, it must be original. I once spent three hours on an assignment, which I gave in the next day, on a printed sheet of A4 paper. The teacher assumed it was plagiarized, and gave full marks to a person who had simply written out the Wikipedia page for it. On another occasion, I gained some notoriety as the editor of the class magazine because I wouldn’t allow any plagiarized entries. Who’ll know they’re plagiarized, they thought. Or even “What’s wrong with plagiarism?” I even received a reply from a person whose poem I had rejected because it wasn’t original, saying “They stole my poem!”.

So the problems with implementation may, in fact, be problems with the people themselves.

The second point is the ‘input’ part of the cycle. You are, currently, writing informative textbooks – at times, too informative. The average student likes to know more, but does not like to need to remember more. Remove the imperative for remembering, and it becomes easier to remember.

My third point is on the process. This process lasts for most of the year, and it is perhaps the most important part of the cycle. Consequently, most of the problems and criticisms also come from this part. Many students, it has been observed, do not take an interest in their learning material, however culturally or historically significant it may be. The Board’s present solution for this seems to have been the CCE system. Self-learning is the cornerstone of education, and in the ‘input’ part, CCE is a good idea. But implementation is everything – if the students for whom, may I remind you, this system has been designed, does not know of your intent, and receives the bad part of your system – its implementation – will naturally hate the Board and everyone associated with it. And will learn less as a conscious rebellion. Will only learn as much as they have to, for that biannual ritual carried out in March and September. This is probably an extreme reaction, but I don’t think it’s too far off the mark.

The Internet being the new forum for all opinions, I came across the following comment:

Education system currently is systematically making the students compelled [sic], forced to stick to the books, no other activities, because of the competition & the expectations……

This is probably also an extreme description. A more accurate statement would be that there is no compulsion to not stick to the books, i.e. to learn outside the textbook. ‘No other activities’ is not quite true, but the current situation is closer to this and farther from the ideal than you might want.

Currently, there seems no way around competition. There are seven billion plus people on this planet, and that number isn’t getting any smaller. The planet just can’t sustain so many humans for such a long time, and we are currently in the final phase of civilisation. The cost of living is higher than ever, and it’s just not possible for everyone to survive indefinitely. These are issues which people have realised and are trying to combat, but meanwhile, the present generation is going to have to fight it out for a decent living, a successful life; and not all of them will make it. That is inevitable. But the success ratio could be raised, if you impart more quality higher education to the present generation. I realise that this is not your area of jurisdiction, but it is a problem that must be addressed and I may as well bring it up now.

My fourth and final point is based on the ‘output’. Clearly, students do not really like this system, and as I have already mentioned, the system is made for them. Or I should say, us. My view is that the students are guinea pigs in a giant experiment. We don’t necessarily mind that, just make sure you’re doing the experiment properly. And I understand that the experiment is on a huge scale, making it correspondingly important that you do it properly. Increasing the number of parameters on which the student is graded was supposed to make individual tests matter less. Instead, it’s made them matter more – students fight tooth and nail for every mark they can get away with, and the gap between 90% and 91% has widened even further. In fact, it’s become the gap between 90.9% and 91%. No need to accentuate competition when there’s already so much of it.

Remember what I was saying about the last part of the IPO cycle? This is it. Three whole pages of feedback for you.

 

Yours sincerely

Aditya Sengupta

A Class 9 student.

2 thoughts on “To the Central Board of Secondary Education

  1. raja

    I am amazed by the depth of the observations here. I’ve read various articles on shortcomings of our education system (and that’s a larger canvas than just CBSE) but this one, written as it is from the INSIDE by a student (and therefore, the MOST important stakeholder of them all) beats them all.
    Hopefully CBSE listens to this at least. It cannot get clearer, louder and closer to them than from one of their students.

    Extremely well-written piece. Am going to share it on all platforms I know. Thank you for your insight.

    Reply

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